Dying Boy Gets a New Gene-Corrected Skin; Tiny Human Brain Organoids Implanted into Rodents; Doctors Are Getting Rich on Urine Tests for Opioid Patients; Should Children Form Emotional Bonds with Robots?; Personalized Genetic Tests Show Up Rink-Side, and More …
November 10, 2017 Donate to CBHD
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RESEARCH AND NETWORKING OPPORTUNITY FOR INTERNATINAL BIOETHICISTS
The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity invites international professionals and scholars who will advance contextually relevant Christian bioethical engagement globally to consider our International Bioethics Scholars program. Applications for our 2018 scholars are being accepted through December 1, 2017.
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Call for Proposals: Bioethics & Being Human
FINAL DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS
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The final deadline to submit paper and poster proposals for the upcoming CBHD summer conference, Bioethics & Being Human, is this Wednesday, November 15. All serious proposals relevant to the study of bioethics are welcome.
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NEWS HIGHLIGHTS
Targeted by an Addiction Treatment Center, Union Workers Feel Trapped as Their Benefits Are Drained
(STAT News) — The teachers’ experience is a stark example of what’s happening around the country to union members fighting addiction. Treatment center operators and middlemen who act as brokers for those facilities are targeting these workers because they usually have generous insurance benefits that pay for long stays in rehab. They also often need a health care provider’s clearance to return to work, handing the centers tremendous power over patients. …
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A Dying Boy Gets a New Gene-Corrected Skin
(The Atlantic) — In August, De Luca and Pelligrini got the green light to try their technique. In September, they collected a square inch of skin from Hassan’s groin—one of the few parts of his body with intact skin. They isolated stem cells, genetically modified them, and created their gene-corrected skin grafts. In October and November, they transplanted these onto Hassan, replacing around 80 percent of his old skin. It worked. In February 2016, Hassan was discharged from the hospital. In March, he was back in school. He needs no ointments. His skin is strong. It doesn’t even itch. “He hasn’t developed a single blister,” says de Luca, who shared the details of Hassan’s story with me. “He’s gaining weight. He’s playing sports. He’s got a normal social life.” …
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‘Any Taboo Has Gone’: Netherlands Sees Rise in Demand for Euthanasia
(The Guardian) — The number of people euthanised in the Netherlands this year is set to exceed 7,000 – a 67% rise from five years ago – in what has been described by the director of the country’s only specialist clinic as the end of “a taboo” on killing patients who want to die. In 2012, 4,188 people were euthanised by doctors in the country, all of whom met the criteria laid down under the 2002 law that made it legal: a voluntary and well considered request in the context of unbearable suffering from which there is no prospect of improvement, or alternative remedy. This year, 18,000 requests for help to die have been made, including 2,500 – up from 1,234 in 2015 – to the Levenseindekliniek – the only medical facility in the Netherlands that specialises in euthanasia. …
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Tiny Human Brain Organoids Implanted into Rodents, Triggering Ethical Concerns
(STAT News) — These micro quasi-brains are revolutionizing research on human brain development and diseases from Alzheimer’s to Zika, but the headlong rush to grow the most realistic, most highly developed brain organoids has thrown researchers into uncharted ethical waters. Like virtually all experts in the field, neuroscientist Hongjun Song of the University of Pennsylvania doesn’t “believe an organoid in a dish can think,” he said, “but it’s an issue we need to discuss.” …
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Hockey and DNA: Personalized Genetic Tests Show Up Rink-Side
(STAT News) — At an NHL hockey game, it’s not uncommon to see some blood. The other day, it turned out to be some of my own. The good news is that it was all in the name of science. The Boston-based consumer genetics company Orig3n had announced that it was planning to set up booths at a Boston Bruins game I was going to attend. Along with other fans, I could get a free DNA test and learn about my own genes. These kinds of tests are increasingly common — and many of them are marketed toward fitness junkies and sports fans like myself. The idea is that you can discover all kinds of things you never knew about your health. …
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How Doctors Are Getting Rich on Urine Tests for Opioid Patients
(Bloomberg) — The high-tech testing lab’s raw material has become liquid gold for the doctors who own Comprehensive Pain Specialists. This testing process, driven by the nation’s epidemic of painkiller addiction, generates profits across the doctor-owned network of 54 clinics, the largest pain-treatment practice in the Southeast. Medicare paid the company at least $11 million for urine and related tests in 2014, when five of its professionals stood among the nation’s top billers. …
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Should Children Form Emotional Bonds with Robots?
(The Atlantic) — Stefania Druga and Randi Williams, the researchers behind the study, want to know how children perceive smart robots, and, eventually, to study how those bots affect kids’ cognitive development. So far, they’ve discovered that little children (ages 3 and 4) aren’t sure whether the robots are smarter than they are, but that slightly older children (ages 6 to 10) believe the robots to have superior intelligence. Druga and Williams were inspired by the research of the legendary Sherry Turkle, who wrote a highly influential 1984 book called The Second Self. …
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Should Patients with Dementia Be Able to Decline Spoon-Feeding?
(Chemistry World) — People who abhor the thought of being kept alive with feeding tubes or other types of artificial nutrition and hydration have, for years, had a way out: They could officially document their wishes to halt such interventions using advance directives. Even patients diagnosed with progressive dementia who are able to record crucial end-of-life decisions before the disease robs them of their mental capacity could write advance directives. But caregivers and courts have rarely honored patients’ wishes to refuse food and fluids offered by hand. …
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Note: News stories and events do not necessarily represent the Center's views. For additional commentary on many of the issues they raise, please see the CBHD web site at www.cbhd.org. Please visit www.bioethics.com for daily posts on bioethics news and issues.
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